Home to household names like Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, the Monterey Bay area can rightfully claim a place among the world’s top golf regions. The 36-hole complex at Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course hosted the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship and bolsters the coastal locale’s reputation for world-class links, boasting both a rich historic legacy—Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, and Tom Watson have all graced the Bayonet course—and a recent redesign from famed course architect Gene Bates, which earned both courses a spot on _Golf Digest_’s Top 10 Course Remodels of 2009.
The older of the two courses, Bayonet Golf Course was originally sculpted through the cypress trees of the since-closed Fort Ord Military Base in 1954 by the Army's Commanding Officer General Robert McClure. Measuring in at 7,104 yards from the tips, the course still captures McClure’s original vision, with a classic, tree-lined layout and several dog-leg lefts the General cunningly installed to favor his left-handed fade off the tee. Gene Bates’ recent design contributions are apparent in the layout’s clusters of creative bunkering, reshaped greens, and areas where trees have been cleared to allow for greater views of the Monterey Peninsula.
Bates also made sweeping alterations to Black Horse Golf Course, changing the layout from its tree-lined, 1964 design into a more open counterpart to Bayonet’s cypress-, pine-, and oak-ensconced fairways. In addition, Bates carpeted the entire 7,024-yard course with new, smooth-rolling bent grass, while revamping the irrigation to provide for more meticulous playing conditions. The remodeling efforts afford many sweeping views that populate the course, but especially the one golfers’ encounter on the newly-added, 224-yard, par three 15th hole, where an elevated tee looks out onto a horizon dominated by the Pacific Ocean.
The Marina Club was founded in 1972 by Guy and Betty Calamia. The little card club on Monterey Bay quickly grew a reputation as one of the friendliest poker clubs on the Pacific Coast. Your host Betty, is accompanied by her son’s Frank and Deon. Together they promise you fun and lively gaming activities.
The C restaurant + bar's executive chef Jerry Regester crafts a dinner menu that culls fresh, sustainable seafood and local, seasonal produce to craft sophisticated takes on classic American flavors. Steeped in a spicy Dungeness crab and saffron broth, the Monterey-style cioppino stews a sumptuous treasure chest of seafood ready to be unlocked by a discerning palate or an industrial welding torch ($25). The normally humble made-to-order clam chowder takes on justifiable airs with sweet-garlic crème fraîche, leeks, and fingerling potatoes ($12.50). Offering the charms of travel without the detailed digital embarrassment of a full-body scan, sparkling-wine flights from the new ($18) and old worlds ($23) shower the senses with shimmering bliss.
The name Planet Gemini would imply that this club has two sides to it, but that's not quite accurate. There are at least three. Since opening Planet Gemini more than 20 years ago, the Lane brothers—Frankie and Anthony—have built a venue that functions as a comedy club, a live-music space, and a full-service restaurant. Each night, the club transforms into something new: on Tuesday, Frankie, a master chef, puts together a menu of homemade Italian food as Anthony croons classic Italian songs; Wednesday and Sunday are dance nights, with Latin bands taking the stage as the audience dances the pachanga, merengue, and salsa; and Thursday is for karaoke, during which professional lighting and sound make amateurs feel like rock stars or a circus tiger.
On Friday and Saturday night, however, the music gives way to laughter, as the stage is reserved for a rotation of nationally touring comedians. Although Planet Gemini is mostly known for featuring up-and comers—many of whom have been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, and other national programming—they've also had the good fortune to host famous funny men such as George Lopez and Jimmy Fallon.
Meaning “food” in Italian, cibo is not the only thing Cibo Ristorante Italiano provides. Dinner guests can slide behind a white-clothed table and soak in the eatery's relaxing ambiance of sunflower-yellow walls and loft ceilings spangled with artwork of all mediums—sculptures, photography, paintings, hand-blown glass, and even the sound waves of jazz music. The restaurant’s musicians take the stage six nights per week during dinner service, serenading guests as they enjoy the menu’s selection of homemade pasta dishes, as well as crisp pizzas—topped with everything from housemade sausage and imported cheese to spicy short ribs and potatoes. They also serve an array of hearty Italian entrees, including roasted free-range chicken over creamy polenta and grilled jumbo prawns and sea scallops with roasted-pepper couscous. Cibo's servers can suggest one of their many Italian and Californian wines to pair with the meal, or guests can enjoy a small-batch scotch.
In order to emulate the eco-friendly attitude of the LEED-certified Portola Hotel and Spa that surrounds it, Jack's Restaurant and Lounge regularly culls regional, sustainable ingredients for its contemporary takes on breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. With the help of Chef Jason Giles' culinary imagination, Jack's adds innovative flavors to items such as naturally raised beef from Harris Ranch and seafood chosen in support of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program, which helps to prevent over-fishing of threatened and endangered ocean life. Small plates of baked scallops lounge on the half-shell, while waiters usher basil-crusted Pacific sole to tables on the heated patio surrounded by edible velvet ropes. Wines poured at the lounge highlight the vineyards and wineries of Monterey County, and fair-trade organic coffees and teas are sourced from Peerless Coffee Company, a Northern California staple for more than 86 years.